Wednesday 19 April 2017

Stokes: We are fearless

Demi Stokes believes Man City Women can head into their Champions League semi-final clash with Lyon full of confidence.

The Blues face the three-time European champions in a two-legged encounter, kicking off this Saturday at the Academy Stadium at 2pm.

Nick Cushing’s side have a 100% record in 2017, riding the momentum of last season’s double-winning success, and Stokesinsists her side have what it takes to reach the final.

“You can’t go into these games with fear,” she stated. “We respect what Lyon have done but we’re a good side.

“Our achievements speak for themselves: we’re in the Champions League semi-finals and the FA Cup final. Any athlete wants to be playing at the highest level so why not aim for the Champions League?

“The opportunity is there. We have to take it.

“If we focus on us and what we can do as a team, the rest will take care of itself."

Immovable in Cushing’s starting XI, Stokes played a part as Cushing’s side made history again by reaching their first FA Cup final with a 1-0 win over Liverpool.

The left-back expressed her delight for the accomplishment but asserted City must channel their focus to address the next game.

“It was a good experience,” she declared. “It’s good to have reached the final eventually – we’d failed in the last few years so to get there this year is amazing for the Club. It’s another pointer to where we want to be.

“You have to shift your focus on to the next game. You can’t get too ahead of yourselves. The FA Cup final is after the Champions League so that is our focus for the next few weeks.

“We have to focus on the here and now. We’ve all pulled together and showed great quality. If you look at our team, there’s a lot of depth.

“It doesn’t matter who’s chosen on the day – everyone will get the job done – and it’s important that we have a good group.

“Everyone has their role and they understand the direction we’re going in.”

Participation in the latter stages of the FA Cup and Champions League mean City are in with the chance of lifting five trophies in just nine months.

Stokes spoke of her pride to don the sky blue shirt and represent a Club she feels is leading the way both on the pitch and off it.

She continued: “For the women’s game, I feel we set the boundaries and other Clubs want to come with us.

“It’s great for the game and the more we can encourage and push other teams to replicate how we are, the more the game will keep moving forward.

“There are exciting times ahead.”